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Well, it’s 40 degrees out at 7:30 am, there are birds singing outside the window. Music is playing, Her Dogginess is wrapped around the rolling base of my desk chair like a smelly fur rug with a death wish, and I am about 7K or so from writing THE END on my third book, with satisfying flair and perhaps even a weird font just for kicks (I am wild like that sometimes).

So, as I sit here contemplating this state of affairs and the fact that, if nothing else, I seem to have learned how to avoid massively overwriting my first draft, now seems like a great time for another one of those How The Hell moments.ย  (Yes. You knew this was coming, didn’t you?)

Let’s skip forward a few years…

I am fifteen, a badass sophomore with more of those straight-leg jeans I loved in eighth grade, baggy flannel shirts, and a pair of sneakers held together by duct tape, a phenomenon that came about purely out of necessity –I love the sneakers, but they’re coming apart around my giant size-9 feet– but that seems to have caught on as a strange fad for reasons I cannot comprehend.

I’ve finally figured my hair out, which is a plus.

I have also figured out something else, something wonderful, something life-changing. I can write my stories on the computer.

Who needs notebooks and cheap Bic pens that bend when you press to hard, and sometimes explode when you chew too enthusiastically on the ends, covering your face with ink that takes days to wash off completely? Who needs hours of trying to copy your work into a neater form on nicer notepaper, only to discover even you can’t read your own handwriting? Who needs finger cramps? I have –wait for it– WordPerfect.

*cue beam of light from heaven and invisible choir*

I type with two fingers, much like a little old lady with a recalcitrant typewriter. I squint at the screen. I have, gods help me, password protected files, because there’s only the one computer and six people in the house, and I am not willing to share my genius with siblings (who, did I but know it, honestly couldn’t give a damn). I print out ten, fifteen, twenty pages of story, my god, I am brilliant; I am the next Stephen King; lookout world. I have even gone so far as to save my work on, gasp, a floppy disk. I haven’t figured out yet why they call it that, as it’s much harder than the other version was, but I’m thrilled to have my opus in such a startlingly portable form. It fits right in my back pocket. I am a real writer now.

Until somebody does something to screw up the computer, that is.

Suddenly my brilliantly password-protected files, still right there on the desktop where I can see them clearly, won’t open. I try for days.

Ah well. Good thing I have this disk I kept in my back pocket all this time!

…Except that, as it turns out, even those hard plastic 3 1/4 inch floppies don’t like to be sat on.

Twenty pages of story, a brilliant story about a paintball fight and a girl with really good reflexes (I guess speculative was just my fortรฉ even then) — gone. I am devastated. I am crushed. I am outraged. How can this happen? It was on a computer.

I don’t think there’s any need to list the lessons learned, do you? Lets just say that I now backup through Mozy a few times a day, to CD every 4 weeks, and to my flashdrive whenever I think of it, which is often. Not counting email, the external drive in the living room, and occasionally DropBox.

Paranoia is a beautiful thing. ๐Ÿ™‚